Google AI move makes trusted media even more crucial

james milneThe publishing industry is facing a new upheaval in the form of Google’s new AI Overview, as the familiar auto-pilot approach of  tapping in a search term, seeing the results and clicking through to the most relevant website will be no more.

Instead, as Google continues its quest for the entire world’s attention, AI Overviews will surface AI-generated summaries of information in response to search queries,  potentially discouraging users from clicking through to the original sources.

There’s understandable concern for what this means next for publishers who are reliant on search traffic for significant levels of their subscription and advertising revenues.

According to Google, links included in AI Overviews get more clicks than if the page had appeared as a traditional web listing for that query – so all is not lost.

But anything which risks diminishing accessibility to trusted media brands is dangerous. Delivering news information of quality and integrity takes a well-funded and resourced ecosystem. Forcing news organisations to compete with generative AI to drive eyeballs, devalues legitimate news sources. And while AI-Generated content can still go rogue with hallucinations and built-in techbro biases,  the need and value of premium media environments that offer  trusted, brand safe places for advertisers and companies to place their content has never been greater.

In a year where more than half of the world’s population across more than 40 countries – will go to the polls, the stakes are even higher for brands to maintain integrity while they maximise their marketing impact. The urgency to align with trusted media environments becomes paramount amidst heightened political tensions and the proliferation of misinformation.

Building your brand trust
In these febrile times, marketers are rightly concerned about brand safety when it comes to ad spend. Too lax and you risk damaging your brand, but too inflexible and  you risk missing out on the halo effect of premium media platforms. Blunt tools like keyword blockers have become so strict that they inadvertently limit access to premium, brand safe news content – this has resulted in 30% of publisher inventory being underfunded or undersold

The Open Internet is the best, most viable solution that offers authentic journalistic spaces for brand engagement as brands seek better returns and greater control over their ad environment. It serves brands to prioritise these environments as data shows that trust is highly correlated with brand preference and equity for all types of brands. Those that are highly trusted see stronger growth over time.

By focusing on trusted media environments, brands can be sure of where their ad impressions are appearing, and what they’re appearing against. It’s a level of brand safety you can’t get from any social platform. The alternative is that you put content on X, for example, where the platform has absolutely no control over the content being produced either around the original ad impression, or the subsequent ad impressions due to threads and replies. 

While the option to plough into walled gardens, particularly these social platforms, gives agencies an ‘easy’ way to give performance results for their clients it is actually limiting. It restricts the scope of the consumer base they’re going after, while opening up advertisers to that aforementioned risk.

Specifically this year, the amount of political marketing will skew the market and media plans. In the UK, the Government has raised the spending cap per seat by 80% – almost doubling the spend we’ll see on political ads in Britain alone. Meta may have banned political advertisers from using gen AI but there remains issues around misinformation. 

In terms of media, brands can invest in environments that prioritise facts, increase consumer’s view of trust in the brand, and support something that is critically important, not just for our industry, but for all of us as humans – quality journalism. 

Don’t make a misstep – finding the brand value in news audiences
Due to the 2024 elections, there will be increases in the user traffic, page views, and network in premium media environments. From this perspective an overall volume impact will be a great effect for brands who prioritise these publishers.

Additionally brands should, and need, to care about where they’re being seen. The perceived cost and scale of an advertising channel can boost brand qualities in the eyes of a consumer. Research has also found that, by quantifying the signalling effect of advertising in varying channels, premium media – such as news brands – drove the strongest ‘fitness’ and ‘social signals’ for brands. These were far superior to social media. It proves that traditional media’s power endures.  

Locating your brand power – leveraging attention metrics
To capitalise on the value news audiences possess, brands need to look to address brand safety concerns, while capitalising on high value consumer moments across the publishing ecosystem.

If you are measuring advertising campaigns solely against cost, reach and efficiency metrics then it’s much easier for lower-quality audiences to become part of ad buys in media plans. 

Attention metrics not only address brand safety concerns, they also provide a much more accurate way to measure consumer engagement. They take into account surrounding factors like ad density and page placement, which ultimately enhances and creates a more positive user experience. Their value should definitely not be overlooked, and it’s why publishers like The Guardian are now highlighting which articles people have spent the longest time on, with their new ‘Deeply Read’ section.

Marketers want a media channel that delivers advertising in a safe and reliable manner, with good transparency about what they’re getting for their money, and whether it is working. 

On the other side, consumers would like the amount of advertising to feel fair – not too many, or too intrusive. 

When you lay it out like this, it simply makes sense then to choose the trusted media environment of premium news publishers. With integrated ads that are relevant to the reader and, likely, a quality audience with disposable income it is an excellent opportunity for brands and advertisers alike. All while supporting quality journalism and ensuring the dissemination of legitimate news in an all-important year. 

James Milne is managing director Northern Europe, Outbrain

Print Friendly